The Six-Word Memoir Blog

Classroom of the Month: NYC’s PS 86 in the Bronx

Friday, December 7th, 2012

By Larry Smith

Since we announced our new book, Things Don’t Have to be Complicated: The Art of Six-Word Memoirs by Students of the World., a project we’re publishing with TED Books (out December 20!), educators across the world have been sending their own classroom portfolios. Among them were five illustrated Six-Word Memoirs from fifth-graders in PS 86 in the Bronx. “We created our Six-Word Memoirs to celebrate the end of our personal narrative unit,” says teacher Leah Ruediger, who came to PS 86 via Teach For America. “Then we explored what it means to tell a story in only six words. Many students in our class shared deeply personal experiences in their Six-Word Memoirs, and sharing them helped to bring our class closer together and build a team spirit.”

In the message that continued from Ruediger she unwittingly offered the exact reason we do what we do here at SMITH: “It is my hope that you strongly consider their entries to the contest. It would mean a lot to them, to their families and to the community for their work to be published and celebrated. It would also do a lot for the confidence of my kids, who do not yet know that they can and will be strong writers with strong voices!”

Above and below are two of these students’ works; all five illustrated Six-Word Memoirs from the kids of PS 86 can be found our forthcoming book which will be out on December 20.

Teachers’ Guides: With the generous support of our publisher, Harper Perennial, we’ve created two free Six-Word Memoir lesson plans, one for our first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, as well as one for our teen book, I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure. Download a PDF of either or both below. All we ask in return is this: let us know how six words works in your class. We love sharing your stories with the rest of the SMITH community.

Teacher’s Guide: First Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)
Teacher’s Guide: Teen Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)

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